Intellectual Character: Truth

This semester we have been studying intellectual character. Today we want to review all we have talked about.

We have defined intellectual character as the thought process behind every decision we make. These are the character traits we have discussed:

  • Intellectual courage, the trait that gives you boldness to find the truth and live out the truth.
  • Intellectual honesty, which deals with how we use the truth we know. It is the link that goes from our thinking to our actions.
  • Intellectual tenacity is being very determined and persistent in seeking truth and knowledge.
  • Intellectual carefulness is the understanding of being patient, diligent, and careful in the search for truth and knowledge.
  • Intellectual humility is seen in those who want to know the truth, so they constantly recognize that they, like all people, are sinful and capable of error.

This week we are going to review intellectual character and virtues and how they are practiced in your life. As you think about these virtues, you will see that one word sticks out in each of them.  That one word is truth.

I want to describe each virtue again and I want you to listen for the word truth.

  • Intellectual courage helps you to find the truth and live out that truth.
  • Intellectual honesty is how we use the truth we know. It is the link that goes from our thinking to our actions.
  • Intellectual tenacity is being very determined and persistent in seeking truth and knowledge.
  • Intellectual carefulness is being patient, diligent, and careful in the search for truth and knowledge.
  • Intellectual humility describes those who want to know the truth; they constantly recognize that they, like all people, are sinful and capable of error.

Intellectual character is all about truth:  a search for truth, how to use truth, and how to be truthful to yourself. If we have truth, we can learn anything, we can accomplish anything, and we can live our life the right way. John 6:31-32 says:

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

A lot of times when we look at this passage, we see only verse 32 which says, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” This verse describes what intellectual character is all about–seeking the truth and knowing the truth. But verse 31 is where it all ties in; it is where real truth is. According to this verse, if you hold to, believe in, and live out the truth of Jesus’s teachings and His life… you will be free!

That is real truth that you can live by and truth that will set you free.

Let’s look at a different type of truth. How about a truth that pizza is good? That is not a truth that you can live by; that is not a truth that will set you free. Only the truth of Jesus’s life and teachings and following Him can truly set you free. The intellectual virtues will help you to understand that truth. Practicing those virtues, as students, in your daily life will help you understand that truth.

Practicing humility helps us understand we might not be right and that we need to strive to see real truth and not just what we want to see.

Practicing intellectual carefulness helps us see how we need to be very careful in our work and in the learning process because we need to be careful to follow Jesus’ teachings and ministry.

Practicing intellectual tenacity when we are learning something and striving to learn a math problem can helps us strive to do what Jesus has called us to do because not all of what Jesus says for us to do is easy.

Practicing intellectual honesty in our work and not cheating helps us to be honest in our life and do the work Jesus has called us to do.

Showing intellectual courage in your work in asking questions when you are afraid or in standing up for someone when no one else does, helps us practice standing up for the truth of Jesus! And that truth of Jesus’ life, teachings, death, burial, and resurrection is life giving, life changing, and life sustaining! That truth is the real truth that will set you free in this world and the kingdom to come forever and ever, amen!